Last week, we updated you on our progress with H.R. 3211, the so-called Mortgage Choice Act, that is being pushed through Congress by RESPRO, the banking lobby and others with affiliated business interests in the title insurance industry.

We are happy to report that according to our contacts from within the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC), H.R. 3211 will not be voted on in the committee prior to the end of the year. That means that with the exception of four Congressional business days in January prior to January 10th, the qualified mortgage rule will most likely go into effect without H.R. 3211 and affiliate fees will thereby count against the 3% cap for qualified mortgages.

The fact that no vote is scheduled is good news.

However, as with any successful endeavor in Washington DC, there are far too many well-entrenched and well-financed foes to celebrate the failure of RESPRO and their allies to get H.R. 3211 passed before January 10th. Instead, with H.R. 3211 sitting on the books for the 113th Congress, we fully expect that the affiliated business arrangement lobby, which includes title insurance underwriters and large AfBA title agencies from within the title insurance industry, to continue their efforts to get their law passed.

In short, it isn’t over yet.

The bill still has 26 co-sponsors, the vast majority of which are Republicans, and RESPRO has succeeded in getting the Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to take a neutral position on the measure, thereby guaranteeing that if the matter ever comes up for a vote in the House Financial Services Committee that she will not organize support to block it.

What’s Next and Who is it Coming From?

With an election year in 2014 and the 113th Congress at the halfway point, we expect efforts to “fix” Dodd-Frank to favor affiliate businesses to continue. The forces who are lobbying for passage of H.R. 3211 and a Senate version of the same bill include:  RESPRO, Quicken Loans, the National Association of Credit Unions, NAR and the MBA.

Despite public statements that they are not lobbying H.R. 3211, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) has filed three consecutive federal lobbying disclosures that indicate that they are, in fact, lobbying on H.R. 3211, H.R. 1077 and previously lobbied H.R. 4323.

While we do not know whether they are lobbying “for” or “against” the measures, the public statement that “ALTA is not lobbying for or against H.R. 3211 or H.R. 1077” is directly contradicted by the sworn federal lobbying reports that suggest the opposite is true. ALTA is lobbying on the bill and has been for the entire year.

It is not surprising that ALTA is performing some type of lobbying activity on H.R. 3211 and the predecessor bills to H.R. 3211, whether actively or otherwise. That said, if there are groups that are lobbying against H.R. 3211, we want to help them succeed. If ALTA was in that category, we would engage them to join our effort. We will now endeavor to discover whether that is true.

If groups are lobbying for H.R. 3211, but publicly suggesting otherwise, it is important to the overall policy discourse to know that fact and make our policy choices accordingly. It is up to others to explain the questionable efficacy of lobbying on the subject of perceived neutrality.

What is NAILTA Doing?

The efforts to preserve independent land title agents continues. We are already planning another early Spring trip to Washington DC with our volunteer group of title professionals. If you are interested in spending a day or two in Washington DC with our Policy and Legislative Affairs volunteers, please feel free to contact us at info@nailta.org. More information on dates and locations can be shared when you RSVP or contact us directly.

If you have a contact with a member of Congress and want us to visit him/her while in DC, please share that information. Our meetings usually include the House Financial Serivces Committee and the Senate Banking Committee where the Dodd-Frank reforms are reviewed and debated. Members from those committees are highlighted for meetings.

NAILTA opposes H.R. 3211, H.R. 1077 and the Senate bills that mirror the House versions. We will continue that effort. Your support is critical to our mission. Your membership in NAILTA is the easiest way to reinforce the strength of independent settement service providers from all disciplines. We need your help! Membership dues invoices will be arriving soon. Make sure that you show your support by renewing your membership in NAILTA.